Sarah Robertson: Early momentum is vital if Team GB are to retain hockey gold from Rio

SARAH Robertson claims it is vital Great Britain’s women’s hockey side builds early momentum in Tokyo if they want to pull off a repeat of their Rio gold.

Their group stages begin tonight with a tough clash against Germany at the Oi Stadium with the 27-year-old from Selkirk flying the flag as the lone Scot in the team.

There were mixed emotions watching the 2016 final, she admits, with joy for friends tasting the euphoria but personal grief from sitting from afar after she was omitted in the final squad cuts.

However with preparations limited by a lack of travel overseas, laying down an early marker can breed the confidence required to dream of a title repeat, Robertson insists.

“The most worrying thing would be if we go out there and don’t perform in that first game. But we’re very prepared. Ultimately, we want to control the result. But Germany are a good side. They could throw anything at us. It’s game one of five in a group. So it’s not all or nothing in that first game. But ultimately, if we go out and perform, that is the main goal.”

The Dutch, in the same pool, will want belated revenge for their loss in the unforgettably dramatic penalty shootout that capped the Rio tournament when goalie Maddie Hinch was headline news and the heroine of the hour.

But as much as the one-time Hibernian starlet is focused on scoring and success, being an Olympian feels like becoming a part of history – with a chance to write some of her own.

“Beijing 2008 was what got me hooked,” Robertson said. “I remember watching Kelly Holmes’ double gold and thinking, ‘How good is that?’ Just the goosebumps. Denise Lewis as well. I was around 15 at that time, and those stood out for me.

“And then, as I started to pick hockey and play that a bit more seriously, I was following all of it in 2012 when they won bronze. And obviously being part of the squad in 2016, the Olympics is always such a momentous event.”

In her kit bag, she packed a few presents despatched from the Borders from family and friends but the countless good luck messages will now go unnoticed until she’s off the plane home.

“As a group, we are off social media,” she revealed. “So I won’t be receiving them until afterward. Sometimes you do feel that pressure to reply. That’s also why we’re just going off and focusing on us as a team.”

The Herald Scotland

The Herald Scotland

The Herald is a Scottish broadsheet newspaper founded in 1783. The Herald is the longest running national newspaper in the world and is the eighth oldest daily paper in the world. The title was simplified from The Glasgow Herald in 1992